One of my favorite parts about life in the Finger Lakes has to do with how the enormous region is entirely broken up into smaller communities. It’s a beehive of small towns and neighbors.
Of course, every hive needs workers (I do love a good metaphor, don’t you?).
The local businesses that crop up in areas like the Finger Lakes Region could come from a story book. Every town has their own Mom and Pop diners, art gallerias featuring local painters, craftsmen selling their unique wares and more. In Dansville, we’ve had the same stationary store on Main Street for decades. Take that, Staples!
Because each town offers a support system for small businesses, the owners end up knowing all about their neighbors (er, customers). They have plenty of opportunity to get to know their market on a first-name basis. Their “market” is made up of Joes and Shirleys and Sally’s-Cousin-Who-I-Can’t-Remember-The-Name-Ofs. Real people.
The notion of a tight-knit, yet welcoming community of small business is appealing to me on its own. But the Finger Lakes seem to take it even further than that: the communities are neighbors to each other, too. Small businesses set up friendly partnerships and advertise for each other all over the region.
Instead of nasty competition between vineyards, wine trails will crop up. A tea room in Canandaigua will cut a holistic medicine practitioner a discount to sell some healing teas over in Naples. A group of competing restaurants will pool some money for a local soccer program.
Now, I’m not saying that the Finger Lakes Region has found the ultimate formula for perfect economic synergy. Nor am I saying that every small business in the region is friendly and/or successful. But I am saying that I haven’t seen a better place to try out a small business dream if you’ve got one.
By Halie Solea